Top universities to Provide Virtual Masterclasses in Healthcare Leadership

Three of the world’s top universities will provide virtual masterclasses in leadership and digital as part of a comprehensive programme to provide NHS staff with the right skills to drive digital innovation.

The NHS Digital Academy led by Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation in partnership with Harvard Medical School and The University of Edinburgh will open for applications in September.

Considered part of the NHS’ wider technology plan to simplify access to care online or otherwise, the academy is intended to ensure that hospitals are taking advantage of improvements in digital technology.

It will support the existing work underway via the Building a Digital Ready Workforce National Information Board programme, delivered in partnership by NHS Digital, Health Education England and NHS England.

The academy is also notable for being a virtual organisation.

It will also provide expertise for clinicians and health managers in digital technology.

Rachel Dunscombe, Director of Digital for Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, a partner in the initiative, has been appointed the Academy’s Chief Executive.

It is currently anticipated that 300 candidates will pass through the NHS Digital Academy, each spending up to 12 months studying part-time.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt proclaimed the academy to be a major development.

“If the NHS is going to have world-class IT systems we need a major programme to spread global best practice – and this links three of the best universities in the world to do just that. The Academy will ensure the next generation of NHS leaders is well equipped with the most exciting innovations that deliver the best care available to patients everywhere.”

While Matthew Swindells, National Director of Operations and Information at NHS England, outlined the ethos of the initiative.

“We want the NHS to be a world leader in the use of digital technology helping to drive improvements in patient care and to make our organisations more efficient. This pioneering academy will provide healthcare leaders with the right skills to tackle some of the most challenging problems facing the NHS.”

And Rachel Dunscombe, CEO of the Academy and Director of Digital for Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, suggested that the new arrangement would offer major opportunities for both healthcare organisations and professionals.

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to act as a catalyst for the CIOs and CCIOs equipping them with the skills and leadership to safely digitise the NHS. I am delighted to be part of the Digital Academy and feel privileged to be able to be at the helm of accelerating the digital health profession. This unique collaboration of partners will provide the system leadership needs highlighted by the Wachter review.”


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